Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC, premiered its Downloadable Media Library on February 1st. We were glad to have an at-home service to offer patrons that day, as Raleigh was blanketed with snow, and schools and many businesses were closed. Within minutes of opening our site to the public, we had patrons logging in and downloading titles. By the end of the week, 716 copies of audio books were checked out, or about 80% of our whole collection. As I type this, we’ve circulated 1,484 downloadable audio books since our launch, and have had 2,058 books placed on hold.
How did we achieve (and maintain) such a high circulation rate? I believe our success was based on three factors. First, we promoted the service in the library branches and on our website. As soon as we knew the launch date for our site, branches started advertising with posters and signs. We also linked to a “Coming Soon” page on our library website. This page had a FAQ about downloadable media and gave a sneak peak of some of the popular titles we had to offer.
The second important factor was staff training. We opened our OverDrive website to staff in the beginning of January, giving our librarians an entire month before the public launch to experience the site. Throughout January and into February, we held six training sessions for our staff. These staff training sessions, and the opportunity to download all of the audio books they wanted for an entire month, made our staff excited and knowledgeable about this new service. This excitement then passed on to our patrons!
The third, but perhaps most important, factor was selecting the right titles. I am a children’s collection development librarian and I worked with our adult selectors to choose the most popular titles available from Content Reserve. We focused on those buzz titles that patrons were looking for – The Politician, Game Change, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Catching Fire, etc. We did not worry about having a comprehensive collection of every possible genre. Instead, we concentrated on getting those stunning titles that would lure patrons in. Our general library system philosophy is to focus on the current and popular titles, and we applied that to our OverDrive page with great results.
All in all, our Downloadable Media Library has been a great success. In these tough times with talk of budget cuts and closing libraries, it has been a treat to offer patrons something new and exciting!
Danielle Zynda Clark is a children’s collection development librarian at Wake County Public Libraries.
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